Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, January 30, 2012

Campus crime down, but laptop thefts an issue

Campus crime fell in 2011, but laptop, tablet and smart phone thefts continue to be a concern.

That was the message Friday at the second Public Crime Meeting, convened by the Department of Public Safety at the Michigan Union.

“Don’t leave your stuff unattended. I’ll probably say that three or four more times during this presentation,” said Sgt. Jason Forsberg.

Communicating with the public about crime trends, and hearing feedback from the public is the purpose for this second in an ongoing series of public meetings, said Interim Police Chief Joe Piersante.

“We were very fortunate in 2011, we had a large reduction in crime,” Piersante said. Larcenies fell by 28 percent, with 611 reported last year compared to 845 in 2010. Sexual assaults fell 38 percent, with eight reported in 2011 compared to 13 in 2010, while breaking and enterings fell by 10 percent, with 26 in 2011, compared to 29 in 2010.

Police reported, however, that so far in 2012 there have been 42 reported crimes, compared to 30 by this time in 2011. Piersante said there has been a rise in bike thefts. “That’s because of the mild weather and no snow; students are using their bikes.”

An ongoing Special Problems Team initiative to head off thefts of laptops, tablets, and smart phones from libraries and recreation facilities has resulted in arrests, Piersante said. Measures include placing plainclothes police officers in areas where thefts are happening.

Police also are spreading the word on a See Something, Say Something initiative, which encourages the public to contact police to head off crime. “You know your classrooms, your work areas, your residence halls — you know what’s out of place,” Piersante said.

Doug Smith, a retired professor in the College of Medicine, asked if police have considered an electronic laptop tracking system. Sgt. Gene Weincouff responded that some companies do offer laptop tracking comparable to systems used to track stolen cars, but the department does not endorse a particular product.

Police urge laptop users to register their laptops online at the DPS website. Registrants receive a laptop sticker with the messages “University of Michigan Police” and “Registered and traceable property.”